Currently reading: James Dyson's axed electric car project cost him £500 million
Dyson opens up to The Sunday Times on the difficulties that caused his electric car project to be canned, as the entrepreneur heads the Rich List

Billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson says that he lost £500 million of his own money on his abandoned project to build a ‘groundbreaking’ electric car.

Dyson’s eponymous technology company established a Dyson Automotive division, with 500 staff and a commitment to invest £2.5 billion into technology including the electric car project.

Development had begun in 2014 but in October last year Dyson scrapped plans for the car, which had been due to launch in 2021, because he didn’t feel the project was commercially viable.

Dyson and his family topped this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated net worth of £16.2 billion, an increase of £3.6 billion from 2019. In an interview with the paper, Dyson revealed some new details about the EV project – which had progressed to the point that a working prototype was running at the time it was axed.

As well as confirming that he lost £500 million on the abandoned scheme, Dyson said that the seven-speed SUV, codenamed N526, had a 600-mile range, and could achieve 0-62mph in 4.8sec with a top speed of 125mph. The car produced around 536bhp and 479lb ft of torque from two electric motors.

Dyson told The Sunday Times that “there’s huge sadness and disappointment” about the project. He added: “Ours is a life of risk and of failure. We try things and fail. Life isn’t easy.”

Speaking about the economics of the project, Dyson said: “I don’t have a fleet. I’ve got to make a profit on each car or I’d jeopardise the whole company. In the end it was too risky.” He added that when “other companies started producing electric cars at a loss, it became too risky for us”.

Chemicals magnate Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose new Ineos Automotive firm is currently developing the Grenadier 4x4 for a planned launch in 2021, is fifth on the Rich List with an estimated worth of £12.2 billion.

Former Formula 1 tsar Bernie Ecclestone is 56th, with an estimated worth of £2.5 billion. Former McLaren boss Ron Dennis is 300th, with an estimated worth of £445 million, while Mercedes-AMG F1 team boss Toto Wolff and his wife Susie are 369th, with a worth of £355 million.

Reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton is the highest-ranked sportsperson, with The Sunday Times claiming that his £224 million makes him the wealthiest sportsperson in the list’s 32-year history.


Dyson axes electric car project

Why Dyson's EV failed

Why Dyson has dodged a bullet


James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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Myk 19 May 2020

Heart Bleeds

Lost £500m of his own money.  Gained £3.6bn, now worth £16.2bn, says "Life isn't easy".  Sure.  Wanna try existing off food banks?

Leslie Brook 19 May 2020


I know how he feels, I've had to scrap development of my own Electric Car which would have had a 1500 mile range, 0-60 in 1.2 seconds + 180mph top speed. I've written off the £3 invested so far.

autoindustryinsider 18 May 2020

weight and size

Apparently the weight and size of the car was a major factor. Hardly the car for an urban dweller, the target audience.